Many people believe that social media gambling games such as Slotmania, Double Down Casino, and Zynga do not have a negative impact on youth. However, a recent study conducted by the University of Adelaide is claiming the opposite.
According to a study of over 1,200 students in secondary schools in Adelaide, children and teens that make in-app purchases in simulated gambling games show heightened gambling activity. The study asserts that these games are training children for real money casino gambling sites.
Social Media Gambling Study Reveals Increased Activity From Children Making In-App Purchases
A recent article on Digital Information World revealed the results of a 2014 study by Daniel L. King from the University of Adelaide School of Psychology regarding social media gambling habits of young children and teenagers. The study focused on a group of 1,287 students from 12 to 17 at secondary schools in Adelaide.
According to the study entitled “Adolescent Simulated Gaming via Digital and Social Media,” children who make in-app purchases in social media gambling games or simulated gambling have heightened gambling activity once they reach a legal gambling age. Social casino apps include Slotomania, Double Down Casino, and Zynga. All offer free to play online casino gaming but offer an option for players to buy play money or coins to continue playing after they run out of virtual funds.
Also, children and teenagers are exposed to gambling ads and promotions via various online mediums. Two of the most popular are YouTube and Twitch. YouTube often runs ads for various gambling sites and Twitch streamers often promote online gambling during their broadcasts.
Various Forms of Simulated Gaming Studied
In the study, researchers interviewed students and also examined both their online media usage and gambling behaviours. The test focused on the following forms of simulated gambling:
Simulated Casino Games – This included standard gambling games like blackjack, roulette, and Texas Hold’em poker.
Non-Standard Gambling Simulations – Games such as Red Dead Redemption and Fable II: Pub Games have side quests that offer simulated gambling.
Reactions to Simulated Gambling – Researchers studied the reaction of children and teens to non-interactive gaming materials in video games. They provided casino and gaming equipment and various references to casino gambling to gauge reaction.
Researcher were trying to determine whether simulated video gaming and the introduction of gambling materials to children and teens had an impact on their gambling habits. The result were very telling, but also very lopsided.
Paying Students Gamble Nearly Three Time More Than Non-Paying Students
Ultimately, what researchers discovered was that students that chose to make in-app purchases in simulated casino games were more likely to gamble once they became adults. According to the study, paying student were three to four times more likely to gamble in adulthood.
The divide between paying and non-paying student was drastic, as displayed below:
39% of paying students were likely to buy real money scratchers versus 11% of non-paying students.
33% of paying students were likely to bet on horses as opposed to 7% of non-paying students.
20% of paying students were likely to play card games as opposed to 7.5% of non-paying students.
20% of paying students were likely to bet on the lottery versus 3.2% of non-paying students.
18% of paying students were likely to bet on sports versus 3.8% of non-paying students.
Ultimately, Dr. King concluded that the purchase of chips in simulated gambling games mimics that of depositing in real money online casinos. Children and teenagers learn that they can pay to play, thus allowing them to continue playing. As a result, this prepares them for real money casino gambling and they are much more likely to gamble as adults.
The report reminded readers that 97% to 99% of all gamblers show no signs of compulsive or problem gambling. While children and teens that make in-app simulated casino purchases are more likely to gamble, it doesn’t mean they will be problem gamblers. However, it is wise for parents to monitor their children’s gaming habit and whether they are making simulated gambling purchase. This may help them recognise early signs of problem gambling behaviour and allow them to take steps to combat it.